Engravings - Forest Swords
Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. It’s an enchanting odyssey that is steeped in the tantalizing mysticism of the unknown.
  2. Aug 27, 2013
    90
    That they somehow manage to fit together to seemingly describe an entire world makes Engravings something of a minor (key) marvel.
  3. Aug 27, 2013
    90
    Engravings, his first full-length, evokes a grayness of place so completely that it is utter, that there is no there there because there is only there there.
  4. Aug 26, 2013
    90
    What Barnes has done here is give us a full tour of a hidden place he only let us peek at before, a place that's even more breathtaking than Dagger Paths made it out to be.
  5. Aug 22, 2013
    90
    It’s an album that has facets from across the spectrum of experimental electronic music but, in the hands of the masterful sonic auteur Matthew Barnes, Forest Swords’ music sounds triumphantly singular. This is a very special album.
  6. Aug 22, 2013
    90
    This is mood-manifesting music of exceptional quality, experimental electronic fare of substance and, crucially, heart.
  7. Aug 22, 2013
    90
    Forest Swords’ debut long-player is electronic mastery at its very finest, because Engravings manages to make electronic music feel tactile, organic, and alive.
  8. Aug 27, 2013
    85
    Barnes’ work is less concerned with trends or scenes than experiences and memories that everyone has had, regardless of what music they’ve listened to before. On that count, Engravings is a broad success.
  9. 85
    It’s a sonic exploration that, not unlike graphic design, takes physical elements and visualises them in another manner. And it sounds incredible.
  10. Aug 30, 2013
    80
    Where acts like Grouper or Lee Noble seem to be deconstructing song altogether, Barnes seems to be engaged in a more subtle exercise, assembling strands of song formats into elliptical constructions with absolute precision.
  11. Aug 27, 2013
    80
    Engravings does find Barnes reaching new peaks, even if he’s not radically adding to his sound.
  12. 80
    Engravings is the sound of a man walking out into the coastline with his headphones on, the epic, Saxon past showing through the fog and playing with the Anglo present’s love of electronic music.
  13. Aug 26, 2013
    80
    Engravings sees the artist employing fractured choral voices, militant drums, swirling guitars and the occasional harpsichord (notably on album standout "The Weight of Gold") to create a tapestry of sounds both experimental and organic.
  14. Aug 26, 2013
    80
    In short, it has the kind of beauty that sees you playing it, and only it, for the next three weeks.
  15. Aug 23, 2013
    80
    With references to house, dub, and instrumental rock all stitched together into a looping, building tapestry that manages to be both visually and emotionally evocative, this is certainly an album that will keep your interest long into the next fad.
  16. Aug 22, 2013
    80
    If Dagger Paths was a revelation, Engravings is a refinement, long to arrive but worth the wait.
  17. Aug 26, 2013
    75
    The LP is merely the byproduct of Barnes steadily refining his intricate and very particular sound.
  18. Dec 10, 2013
    70
    Some of the lesser tracks are near indistinguishable from other over-hyped post Hypnagogic Pop projects.... But such fumbles are rare. [Sep 2013, p.52]
  19. Sep 5, 2013
    70
    A vision of some shadowy Arcadia, its minimal Timbaland beats and lurking Mezzanine-style bass presented with mud and moss under the nails. [Oct 2013, p.67]
  20. 70
    The result is a set of remarkable electronic rituals with an endearing, mystical quality.
  21. Dec 4, 2013
    50
    While Forest Swords isn’t going to be an easy listen for the average music fan, those that are already predisposed to this type of material will probably get a lot out of it.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 4
  3. Negative: 1 out of 4
  1. Sep 17, 2013
    9
    This beautiful album is an mystical experience, an epic travel to oriental horizons, the sounds are the echoes of a dark landscape a landscape that is rich and beautiful, it is one of the best of this great year! Full Review »
  2. Duu
    May 20, 2014
    0
    This instrumental album is a ruse for people who cannot admit when they have been had. There is a very low level of creativity in this album, and it is so bad that it fools some people into thinking it might be good and that they just don't want to be the one who did not "get" it. But I can assure you that there is not one good "beat on here". The only songs that could even be considered listenable by any stretch of the imagination are tracks 1,2, and 7. This album is not even worth a listen, yet it has better ratings that so many other superior albums by other artists. This album's rating proves that if you are an obscurity and weirdness is tantamount to "high quality/ability" to the users and reviewers online. The inability to distinguish between something that pushes sonic status quo and merely bad music is the hallmark of the online critic community and I think they need to stop being fools. I'm a fan of weird music. But being weird should not count in your favor as a band if the music is not skillful, inventive, clever, or sonically new. This album is weak, uninventive, repetitive, and just a disrespectful to all the musicians that eve lived and worked to make their music matter to humanity and to use their platform to be heard to actually say something musically. Full Review »
  3. Bah
    Sep 26, 2013
    10
    This truly is an amazing electronic album; one that combines so many influences, Eastern and Western, past and present. Its sound and the imagery it creates is beautiful, yet at the same time strangely haunting, sort of feels like part of something much greater. My definite favorite from the album would have to be "Friend, You Will Never Learn". Full Review »